The Undecided Voter

Robert Brooks Contributor
The Undecided Voter
Read Time: approx. 3:24

This is the top story from our daily newsletter published on October 20, 2020. To have this and more delivered directly to your inbox scroll down and enter your email or click here to sign up. Photo Credit: Ken Bone, Gage Skidmore.

The 2020 US Presidential Election is now officially just two weeks away. Both candidates are crisscrossing the country, making their final pitches to the American public. Most people appear to have already made up their minds about their preferred candidate. Indeed, nearly 30 million people have already voted. However, there is a segment of the population that’s still wavering. At the end of last month, an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that 11% of eligible voters are undecided. With that said, here is what both sides are saying about why you should consider voting for their candidate.

On the Right: Liz Peek of Fox News says these are the “5 reasons why a sane person should vote – again – for Trump.” First on the list is Education. Peek says: “President Trump has championed school choice, which is overwhelmingly popular across the nation. A recent RealClear Opinion Research poll showed 77 percent of voters approve of families being allowed to use their tax dollars for a school that works for them, including 69% of Black respondents.” Next up: ObamaCare. Peek writes: “ObamaCare helped some people but it was also seriously flawed. It needs to be fixed and augmented with more private options, which is Trump’s ambition. Someone should ask Biden: if the ACA is so terrific, why do so many Democrats want to replace it with ‘Medicare-for-all’?” Peek says the Economy is third on the list: “As we emerge from a sharp recession, Trump’s continued embrace of lower taxes and light regulation, and insistence on better trade deals for American workers, will inspire business investment and expansion, and fuel more job creation.” Fourth is Dissatisfaction with the government. Peek says: “Americans do not want a bigger federal government. In 2016, Gallup asked, ‘In general, do you think there is too much, too little or about the right amount of government regulation of business and industry?’ At the time, 47% responded ‘too much’, 22% said too little and 27% said ‘the right amount.’ Today, thanks to Trump’s efforts to reduce the regulatory burden on small business owners and individuals, only 36% say we are over-regulated, and 36% think we have the ‘right amount’ of oversight.” Lastly, The Supreme Court: “Trump has outperformed expectations on this front, and the addition of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court will be another bulwark against judicial activism and increased federal power.”

On the Left: Writing for the Washington Post, Michael Gerson titles his article: “A conservative’s case for Biden.” In the op-ed Gerson says, “The reasons for a traditional conservative to oppose President Trump’s reelection grow daily. There is his abdication of leadership in fighting the coronavirus pandemic; his active encouragement of citizens to adopt reckless and unhealthy behavior; his corruption of public institutions for political gain; his cultivation of right-wing extremism; his determined effort to undermine public confidence in an election he seems likely to lose.” As for Biden, Gerson believes, “the former vice president is well matched to our historical moment. First, the restoration of institutions often requires the knowledge and skills of an insider. Much of the initial work of a Biden administration would be to de-Trumpify public institutions, restore their independence and integrity, and return competence to governance.” Gerson cites the Department of Justice, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Border Patrol, the Intelligence Community, the State Department, and the CDC. Gerson continues: “The second reason that Biden might be a good fit for our times concerns racial justice and criminal justice reform. Racism is an ongoing challenge to America’s self-definition. And if all the marching and activism of the past several months comes to nothing, it will be another cause of social unrest.” Gerson concludes by saying “Biden is [also] a reasonable progressive. Today we are experiencing a recovery that William Galston has called ‘the most unequal in modern history.’ There are now more jobs for the top quarter of earners than before the COVID-19 crisis. For the bottom quarter, jobs have dropped by more than 20 percent. Someone needs to be looking out for wage workers during an uneven recovery. Biden has the background and capability to play that role.

Flag This: While swing voters are still highly coveted, they’re a shrinking species. According to post-election surveys conducted by the American National Election Studies, from 1948 to 1992, an average of nearly 18% of voters reported casting a ballot for different parties in successive races. Since then, the average has fallen below 10%. In August, a poll from the Pew Research Center found that among those who preferred Joe Biden or Donald Trump, just 5% said there was a chance they’d change their minds. In September, a national Quinnipiac poll showed that just 3% of likely voters said they didn’t know who they’d vote for. A separate Quinnipiac poll showed this candidate commitment translates over to swing states as well. Only 5% of Floridians say they might change their minds. This is why it’s all about turnout. In 2016, almost 139 million Americans voted, according to the United States Elections Project. That sets a new overall record, surpassing the all-time high of 132 million Americans who voted in the 2008 contest between Barack Obama and John McCain. However, that total suggests that only 60% of the country’s 232 million eligible voters actually voted that year. This number will be interesting to observe this year, especially given the fact that the election is taking place against the backdrop of a global pandemic.